Get on the front foot with plastic: (l-r) Anthony Peyton MAIP, Mark Jacobson, Peter Tamblyn, Caitlyn Richards and Keith Chessell FAIP

Packaging professionals at yesterday’s NSW AIP meeting were urged to get on the front foot with plastic and spread the message about its positive benefits, as the industry comes under sustained attack.

Some 100 people were at the packed lunchtime event, which heard speaker after speaker spruik the uses of plastic, both virgin and recycled, and highlight the steps being taken by the industry to stop its adverse environmental impact.

A feisty question time saw the panel deal with whose responsibility it was to communicate to the public, wrestle with why one tray is marked as recyclable while another ostensibly identical one is not, and question whether laminate coated fibre packaging, such as Tetra Pak, should be marked as recyclable when only part of it is. The question time reflected the tumultuous impact the new-found public awareness of plastic packaging is having on the industry.

Opening proceedings Keith Chessell said, “There needs to be education as to what is happening with plastic. The industry is under siege, plastic packaging in particular. Australia has been sending eight million tonnes of plastic bags a year into the ocean. That is now being stopped. We need to ask ourselves as an industry, is there a future for soft plastic. The answer is yes, but recycling is clearly key.”

Caitlyn Richards, responsible sourcing manager, sustainable products and packaging at Coles talked about the supermarket’s own efforts, which include having all its own brand packaging 100 per cent recycled by the end of next year. She also said, “The lightning rod issues, like plastic wrapping of individual cucumbers, are far more complex than the public imagines. Plastic wrapping extends the shelf life significantly, which reduces waste, whose environmental impact is actually greater than the plastic, especially if that plastic is recycled.”

The Redcycle programme – which sees the public actively involved in plastic recycling – was hailed as major success, with all 812 Coles stores around the country running it.
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Courtesy of PKN Packaging News